IV, Huawei, Sharp and NXP among the leading sellers of patents in first quarter, AST data reveals

Richard Lloyd   IAM Blog       June 4, 2018

IAM has teamed up with Allied Security Trust (AST) to provide quarterly updates on the secondary market for patents to determine who’s buying, who’s selling and what sort of assets are changing hands. As well as the data, AST has provided some additional information on the principal deals and the defensive aggregator’s CEO Russell Binns has added some commentary on the main trends.

This analysis covers the first three months of 2018 and shows how Intellectual Ventures continues to dominate the market on the sell-side, while the NPEs Dominion Harbor and Uniloc are the leading buyers. However, it also shows that there remains a steady flow of assets coming onto the market from operating companies (or practising entities as AST refers to them), with 21st Century Fox, Sharp, Huawei and NXP all among the biggest sellers.

As Binns points out, the data also shows that while questions have arisen over the value of software patents following the Alice decision, the number of deals involving software assets has actually increased since the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Top sellers by number of assets

SellerSeller typeDealsAssetsIndustry categories (see bottom table for full list of catgories)
1Intellectual VenturesNPE9654Comm (1), Compu (1), Elec (1), Semic (1), SW (5)
2PendrellNPE3447Comm (2), SW (1)
321st Century FoxPE1158SW (1)
4SharpPE2154WL (2)
5HuaweiPE2130Comm (1), Lig (1)
6NokiaPE1108Comm (1)
7Pact XPP Technologies AGNPE1106Compu (1)
8NXPPE1101Semic (1)
9SDC Materials IncPE184Ind (1)
10General Lighting CoPE177Lig (1)


Top sellers by number of deals

SellerSeller typeDealsAssetsIndustry categories
1IVNPE9654Comm (1), Compu (1), Elec (1), Semic (1), SW (5)
2PendrellNPE3447Comm (2), SW (1)
3PanasonicPE341Comm (1), Semic (1), SW (1)
4AT&TPE336Comm (1), SW (2)
5Concert TechnologyNPE328SW (3)
6Yonsei UniversityUniv34Med (2), WL (1)
7SharpPE2154WL (2)
8HuaweiPE2130Comm (1), Lig (1)
9IBMPE261SW (2)
10IntelPE243Comm (1), SW (1)
  • Sharp sold 151 wireless assets to Philips, three wireless assets to Golden Valley Holdings.
  • Huawei sold 129 communication assets to Nokia, one lighting asset to Open Invention Network
  • General Lighting Co sold 77 lighting assets to OSRAM
  • Multiple individuals have sold 112 assets in 29 deals – buyers include 13 PEs, 11 NPEs and a defensive consortium


Top buyers by number of assets

BuyerBuyer typeDealsAssetsIndustry category
1Dominion HarborNPE3501Elec (1), SW (2)
2UnilocNPE3447Comm (2), SW (1)
3Electronic ArtsPE1158SW (1)
4PhillipsPE1151WL (1)
5NokiaPE2131Comm (1), Elec (1)
6XiaomiPE1108Comm (1)
7Scientia Sol Mentis AGNPE1106Compu (1)
8VLSI TechnologyNPE1101Semic (1)
9Umicore GroupPE184Ind (1)
10RPXDefensive Consortium678Compu (1), Elec (2), SW (2), WL (1)


Top buyers by number of deals

BuyerBuyer typeDealsAssetsIndustry category
1ASTDC1368Auto (1), Comm (2), SW (8), WL (2)
2SamsungPE731Elec (1), SW (6)
3RPXDC678Compu (1), Elec (2), SW (2), WL (1)
4JLP United States Patent SolutionsNPE516Comm (2), Elec (2), SW (1)
5Blackbird TechNPE511Consumer goods (1), Medical (1), SW (3)
6Open Invention NetworkDC416Comm (1), Lig (1), SW (2)
7Dominion HarborNPE3501Elec (1), SW (2)
8UnilocNPE3447Comm (2), SW (1)
9HKC CorpPE337Elec (3)
1025 Ventures LLCNPE211Cons (1), Elec (1), WL (1)
  • 170 practising entity buyers have purchased assets in 185 deals while 75 NPEs bought assets in 95 deals
  • AST purchased assets from five PEs (five deals), six NPEs (six deals) and two individuals (two deals)
  • RPX bought assets from six different entities – two NPEs and four PEs
  • RPX has been in the top buyer’s list since Q1 2015, except in Q3 2017


Assets and deals by industry category

Industry CategoryDealsAssets
9Consumer goods8127
  • Apart from electronics and software assets, majority of assets were related to communication technologies (22.8%) and industrial technologies (16.2%).
  • Number of communication deals had more than doubled in this quarter (34) in comparison to preview quarter (15)
  • Out of top 25 deals (based on number of assets) top industry catgories were communication (7), software (7), electronics (5)


Commentary from AST CEO Russell Binns

• Transactions in software patents continue to increase quarter over quarter and year over year. So contrary to popular belief, Alice has not killed the software patent market. In fact, the number of transactions of software patents has increased since Alice, due to the uncertainty around asserting or litigating those patents.

• Communications patents increased in the number of deals and assets the most quarter over quarter, with the most assets transacted in the beginning of 2018.

• NPEs are less confident with litigation given the current legal landscape, and have focused monetisation efforts on increased patent sales rather than litigation while waiting for more consistency in the application of patent laws. Despite many NPEs shedding assets, there are a number of NPEs that have started increasing purchases again (such as Dominion Harbor and Uniloc). In fact, 29 of the NPE sales made in the first quarter were made to 24 other NPEs, signaling some reshuffling of assets and changes among NPE players. Also on the NPE front, Intellectual Ventures continues to shrink, shedding assets in multiple deals and offering even more for sale, including sales to six other NPEs.

• Asian companies, including Sharp, Panasonic, and Huawei continue to increase sales of patents, and more Asian companies are entering the transactions market.

Article may also be found here.

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